By: Abigail Hawker,
Sewanhaka High School
Human rights activist Tanish Lindsay was born in Jamaica and moved around a lot as a child. In 2010, she left Texas and settled in Montauk. There, she soon realized the lack of diversity and the unfair treatment of people of color.
When Lindsay tried to apply for jobs as a waitress, she was turned down. “They would tell me, ‘Oh I’m sorry, you don’t have the experience,’ and ‘We typically hire experienced people,’ ” Lindsay said. “And when someone says that to you, it’s just not believable.
She also saw Europeans who didn’t speak English very well working as waitresses in those restaurants. “Okay, so it’s not my Jamaican accent and it’s not my work experience, it’s most likely the color of my skin,” Lindsay concluded.
She also observed mistreatment of grocery store workers by their bosses and by tourists. “If I see something, I’ll say something,” Lindsay said. “I’m not going to let them stand there and treat a person of color with no respect at all.”
Lindsay said she knew she had to step in and do something about the discrimination. After the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, she said she noticed the residents of Montauk were acting blind to the movement as if no one had been affected.
“Uh, we have to change this,” Lindsay said she noted to herself. She went to other protests, hoping to recruit others to join her, so the people in Montauk could wake up to what was happening around them.
“I just want them to realize that police brutality is happening around the country, and that they should probably do something about it, stand up for the people that are being killed,” Lindsay said.
Lindsay said she sees the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement are to protest police brutality and racial discrimination.
“There’s a lot of people in the Latinx community and the black trans community that face what we face, and their names aren’t being called,” Lindsay said. “It’s not only black people dying.”
Lindsay wants to get all the organizations in New York to come together since it’s not a competition and they shouldn’t be fighting with each other for the top spot. When it comes to uniting the groups, “I think reaching out and creating a space where everyone can speak openly and collaborate is a step forward,” Lindsay said. “Competition is real, but it has no place in the movement.”
Lindsay’s new non-profit organization, Love at the End, plans on uniting organizations across Long Island and possibly the whole country. “Equality seems to be what every organization is fighting for, and if we all have that in common, then there shouldn’t be an issue uniting,” she said.
Regarding whether the trend of “Black Lives Matter” is beneficial or detrimental, Lindsay says that people in her town did a protest just for show and did not invite any black or brown people.
“You’re having a Black Lives Matter protest without black or brown people, but they are in the town,” Lindsay said. “They just don’t know about it. That didn’t sit right with me.”
As for the confusion between the Black Lives Matter movement and the phrase “all lives matter,” Lindsay said, “When people hear black, they feel excluded, and they feel like, oh my god, they’re trying to say white people’s lives don’t matter.”
She assures that’s not the case, it’s just that black people are the ones being targeted because of the color of their skin. Lindsay advises people to come to the protests so they can be educated on what this movement is actually about.
“You’re not really for the movement if you’re not continuing to speak up and do something about it.”
Shruti Vadada and Rena Max contributed to this report.